Are Legislative Leaders Too Cozy With Haslam? Governor Defends Ties
House Speaker Beth Harwell is being challenged by the conservative wing of the legislature for being too close to Governor Bill Haslam, pictured together here at an education summit. Credit: TN Photo Services

Are Legislative Leaders Too Cozy With Haslam? Governor Defends Ties

House Speaker Beth Harwell is being challenged by the conservative wing of the legislature for being too close to Governor Bill Haslam, pictured together here at an education summit. Credit: TN Photo Services
House Speaker Beth Harwell is being challenged by the conservative wing of the legislature for being too close to Governor Bill Haslam, pictured together here at an education summit. Credit: TN Photo Services

The conservative wing of the Tennessee legislature has accused House leadership of being too cozy with the governor’s office. Bill Haslam is defending his ties, suggesting coziness is preferred over conflict.

The campaign to unseat Beth Harwell as House Speaker is basically about her being too close to Haslam. She has – at times – used her power to make sure legislation doesn’t reach the governor’s desk, like an attempt to repeal Common Core education standards.

Asked if people who claim he has puppets in the legislature may have a point, Haslam tells WPLN he doesn’t see a problem with working in tandem.

“That’s why people hate Washington right now, right? Because nobody actually seems to be trying to solve the problem,” Haslam says. “You could have leadership that always fights with each other. But if we went and took a vote around Tennessee, is that what you want? I’ll bet on how that will come out.”

The legislature and executive branch have different roles, Haslam says. But claims that he’s too tight with legislative leaders – in his view – miss the point of state government.

“Sometimes I think people have the impression that our job at the state is about the legislative battles that happen or this bill that gets proposed, but we’re a service organization. That’s what we are,” he says. “People pay the state to do things they can’t do for themselves.”

Blake Farmer

Blake Farmer is WPLN's assistant news director, but he wears many hats - reporter, editor and host. He covers the Tennessee state capitol while also keeping an eye on Fort Campbell and business trends, frequently contributing to national programs. Born in Tennessee and educated in Texas, Blake has called Nashville home for most of his life.
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